The Macon-Bibb County government has sent letters to 12,378 people who applied for jobs with the former city of Macon over the past four years, warning them that some of their personal information may have leaked online.

Information Technology staff said some people’s information apparently became visible on search engines when city and county computer systems were being merged during the city-county consolidation. An anonymous tip about the data leak came in April 1, but Wednesday’s announcement is the first indication of the full scope of the data breach.

“This breach has resulted in the potential exposure of people’s personal information, including social security numbers, driver’s licenses, and birth certificates,” Human Resources Director Ben Hubbard said in the letter to former job applicants. In many cases that may have just been their resumes, he said. In at least a few cases, however, more sensitive information was briefly visible.

“We are notifying every person with information in that area to make sure everyone has the chance to safeguard their identity,” Hubbard said.

Macon-Bibb government spokesman Chris Floore said Tuesday no one has reported actual misuse of their personal data or identity theft. Two people contacted Macon-Bibb officials after an initial internal notification, two more on Monday, and six on Tuesday -- but all of those have been requests for further information, not reports of wrongdoing, he said.

Human Resources and IT departments put together a notification list of all former job applicants whose information might have been visible. IT Director Stephen Masteller has said the government will have a third party conduct a penetration and security audit of Macon-Bibb systems.

The government contacted Google to have images it knew about removed from search caches, and that was done April 3, Floore said. Other search engines were checked too; leaked data was not found anywhere else, but IT staff are still checking, he said.

Even so, Macon-Bibb officials urge all those potentially exposed to safeguard their identity and check their credit reports. Any suspicious activity should be reported to law enforcement and may require asking for a credit freeze, Floore said.

People can get identity theft protection tips from www.ftc.gov/idtheft and the Better Business Bureau. A free credit report can be obtained at www.annualcreditreport.com.

©2014 The Macon Telegraph (Macon, Ga.)